Kidadl
The front of the London Canal Museum situated besides Battlebridge Basin on the the Regent's Canal.
A red narrowboat stationary on the Regent's Canal.
A long black narrowboat turning on the Regent's Canal.
A long black narrowboat turning on the Regent's Canal.

London Canal Museum

Kidadl.com is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read our Terms & Conditions for further information.

Please be aware of government guidelines before setting off.

Government Guidelines
  • Visit this quirky waterside museum on two floors with your family and learn about London's historic waterways.
  • Discover the colourful story of London's canals and the bounty transported on them.
  • Take a peek inside a narrowboat and look down the huge Victorian ice well that sits below the museum.
  • Future engineers can have an abundance of fun in the London Canal Museum activity zone.
  • Unearth the history of London's working horses at the Horse Power exhibition and explore the recreated stable of one of the original stalls.

If you are looking for interesting museums near Kings Cross, the London Canal Museum is a brilliant way to spend the afternoon with your family. The London Canal Museum is situated besides Battlebridge Basin on the the Regent's Canal and is just a few moments from Kings Cross St Pancras. The venue itself is a historic monument - as is  housed in a former Victorian ice warehouse. Perfect for future ships' captains, the  Victorian Museum brings the industrial revolution to life. Discover the fascinating history and background of London's waterways and the cargoes transported on them. Learn about what life on the canal was like and about the people who worked on them, and find out about the numerous horses and cargoes used on the waterways and the prosperity the system brought to the Regent's Canal. Discover how canal boats climbed uphill and why heavy cargoes can be carried so easily on water. You will even get the chance to take a look inside a narrowboat and immerse yourself in all the history that you've learned!

A Bantam IV on the canal at the London Canal Museum.

Budding historians big and small will find out about the captivating Victorian trade in natural ice and even get the chance to peer down the huge Victorian ice well below the museum. Perfectly preserved since it was built in 1857, the ice well and trade was the fundamental reason for which the canal boat museum building was originally built. During the Victorian era, demand for naturally formed ice was increasing and ice wells were established across the the country to keep up with demand. Ice became popular amongst the upper classes and affording ice cream was a sign of luxury and wealth. At the London Canal Museum, you will learn about the Italian-Swiss immigrant Carlo Gatti, who came to London in 1847 and quickly saw the opportunities within the ice industry. Setting himself up as an ice supplier and ice cream maker, Carlo Gatti imported ice from Norway and built two huge Victorian ice well to store it underneath the London Canal Museum.

Check out the brilliant museum activity zone, where children can construct an arch bridge from bricks strong enough to stand on, make plaques and play with the whiteboard with canal related images to be used and magnetic letters. There are also treasure hunts in the museum and opportunity to go on a boat trip on the Regent's Canal. There are also a brilliant range of kids' books on canal themes, colouring and drawing activities plus much more. Enjoy a journey of discovery around the museum on the Henrietta Trail, which is led by the museum's horse, Henrietta. The London Canal Museum is secret gem that brings history to life!

It's a great idea to take a towpath walk on the day of you revisit. From Camden Town it takes approximately an hour to walk along Regent's Canal to the museum. The London Canal Museum also has a free audio walking guide for you to download. Or there is a printed guide available from the museum shop.

Searching for other museums in North London?  Take a trip to the historic house, Burgh House, located on New End Square in Hampstead and explore the wonderful collection of artworks and objects relating to the history of the area. In South London, the Florence Nightingale Museum tells the story of the celebrated nurse and the history of nursing.

What to know before you go

  • The London Canal Museum is open 10am-4.40pm Tuesdays to Sundays, plus bank holiday Mondays. The museum is open late until 7.30pm on the first Thursday of each month.
  • The last admission is 30 minutes prior to closing.
  • The museum is recommended for children aged six and above.
  • Your visit to the London Canal Museum will take approximately one to two hours.
  • Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • You can make the most of your visit by listening to the pre-visit audio guide. There is also a fantastic audio tour that's free to use during your trip to the London Canal Museum.
  • The London Canal Museum runs summer activity days involving a range of fun learning activities for children aged 6 – 12.
  • The Henrietta Trail sheets are available at reception.
  • The London Canal Museum supports the breastfeeding Welcome Scheme, which welcomes babies to breastfeed anywhere in the museum.
  • There are scheduled boat trips from the London Canal Museum through Islington Tunnel on selected days.
  • The museum is fully accessible to wheelchair users.
  • There are toilets available on both floors of the museum. There is an accessible toilet on the ground floor near the main entrance.
  • There's a vending machine offering hot drinks at the museum. Kidadler's recommend walking five minutes to King's Cross station where you'll find Nandos, Benito's Hat and Leon. There are also a variety of excellent places to eat near St Pancras International station around Granary Square, including Dishoom and German Gymnasium Grand Café, which both have a great kids' menus.  
  • Take a look in the museum shop. It sells a large selection of books on canals, pocket-money items for kids, canal art and hand-painted works.

Getting there

  • The London Canal Museum is a six-minute walk from King's Cross St Pancras International railway and Tube station, which serves the Midland Main line, the Eurostar, Thameslink, high-speed services to Kent and the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria line.
  • King's Cross railway station is an eight-minute walk away from the museum.
  • If you are coming by bus, the area is very well connected. Bus routes 17, 63, 91, 259, 390 and 476 stop at King's Cross Station/ York Way and
  • If you are driving, there is an NCP King's Cross St Pancras car park in Judd Street, which is a 16-minute walk away.

Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.

Government Guidelines

Location

Show on Google Maps